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“It's all about expectations....”

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Katmai Adventure Lodge
Reviewed 25 September 2012

The first thing you need to realize is that the Katmai Adventure Lodge is expensive. Really expensive. $3,500 for three nights/two days for two of us. That rate includes round-trip air from Anchorage to King Salmon, but even then you're looking at over $800 a night. That can't help but create certain expectations, and the KAL falls far short of meeting them.
Our adventure started in the Anchorage airport when we learned that they had in fact only made air reservations for one of us. Fortunately there was another flight to King Salmon a couple of hours later, and after an hour of effort by the good people at Penn Air they were able to get me on that flight. A nuisance, and certainly not high-end attention to detail, but not the end of the world. I was met at the airport by the owner/manager holding up the wrong sign and seeming somewhat annoyed at having to drive into town a second time to pick me up (be aware - the lodge seems to exist under multiple names - Katmai Adventure Lodge, Katmai Trophy Lodge, ? others). We got in a dirty old truck with a broken windshield and headed down the road, past the abandoned and rusted gravel equipment, past the smashed abandoned cars - this isn't Alaska at its finest - and not long after arrived at the lodge. Again, expectations. This place simply isn't very nice. If you were headed off to your uncle's hunting shack for the weekend it would be great, but your uncle isn't charging you $800 a night. The yard is littered with, well, stuff. The floors are plywood. No fireplace (although it appears from the pipe hanging from the ceiling that it crossed someone's mind at some point). Everything is built as cheaply as possible, particularly in the guest rooms. The view is, well, there really isn't one. Meals are served at a set time by Karen the cook, who seems to be a truly nice person. The food is very well prepared but reminiscent of dinner at Grandma's house - pot roast, chicken breasts, generic stuff sure not to offend anyone She packs you a little bag-lunch with a ham and cheese sandwhich, bag of chips, and a cookie (as we sat in the park, eating our chips next to a group whose guide had brought them a fairly impressive feast, we couldn't help but feel we made a wrong choice at some point (although they felt sorry for us and contributed a Diet Coke to the cause)). I know, it's my fault for having read too many cookbooks featuring the amazing recipes of chefs from Alaskan lodges. Did I mention this place cost $800 a night?
Our package included two days of "guided bear viewing", which we were told would be at two different locations. On arrival we were told that the bears were all at Brooks so we would be going to the same place twice and, since there were rangers there there was no need for guides. So our "guided" viewing amounted to be driven to town, a 15 minute floatplane trip to the park, being dropped off and told to meet the plane back at the beach in eight hours. The bears were great, but so much for "guided" anything.
We headed off to the airport on the morning of the third day with a couple who were checking out early (after only one night) and a couple of photographers who were equally disappointed by the experience and who were directly told, by the owner/manager at the airport, that they hadn't left a big enough tip on the nightstand (the cook and her "helper" were great, but apparently tipping the non-existent guides is a requirement as well - and, how did he even know?).
Somewhere along the line the KAL, with its high price and promises, created expectations that weren't even close to being met. Stay anywhere else. Maybe it's all me, but I'm sticking with the uncle's hunting shack next time.

  • Stayed: September 2012, travelled as a couple
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12  Thank TravelswithPute
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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13 - 19 of 25 reviews

Reviewed 5 September 2012

My husband and I spent five days at Katmia Adventure Lodge in August, 2012. The hospitality was outstanding, the food was excellent and the Guides were experienced and extremely knowledgeable. My husband is a fisherman and I go along for the ride. I caught huge salmon and loved the bear watching at Margot Creek and Moraine Creek. The owner provided me with all the extra clothing I needed to be able to do the flyouts without concern about being cold or wet. We loved it so much, we have booked another five day adventure at the lodge next year!

  • Stayed: August 2012, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank Linda W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 September 2012

I recently led a bear photography tour/workshop in Katmai and we used Katmai Adventure Lodge for their guides and hospitality. My students and I were very pleased with the entire experience.

First of all, this is not a "high end" lodge, nor does it purport to be. We were more concerned with being out in the field photographing bears than we were hanging around in the lodge. So all we wanted was a clean, comfortable place to sleep, eat, and meet in the evenings for story telling and sharing laughs. The lodge is clean, comfortable, cozy, and in the absolute perfect location for what we really wanted – access to the bears of Katmai.

The service of the staff - on every level - was top notch. All of the staff and management went above and beyond what was expected in terms of making it a successful trip for all of us, which it was. The food was fantastic. Not fancy or pretentious, just exactly what you would expect in a wilderness lodge; generous portions of delicious meals at breakfast and dinner and bag lunches in the field. The rooms were very comfortable and quiet. We all slept well.

Each morning our guide, Chris, would drive us eight miles to the air service and we would fly to a remote location for bear photography, depending on the conditions. Over the course of 4 days, we saw and photographed more brown bears than we could count. Chris worked extra hard to be sure we were all satisfied and got the bear experience we expected. It exceeded our expectations, actually. My clients were very happy and so was I.

  • Stayed: August 2012, travelled on business
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3  Thank Richard B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 August 2012

My family of 4 with a 12 year old girl and 15 year old boy loved this place! I think we would all say that the experience exceeded our expectations. Weather and wildlife conditions can fluctuate substantially from day to day so you always have some risk that the lodge can't deliver the outdoor adventures you had hoped for. We had a mind-blowing bear watching and fly fishing adventure at Margo Creek on Day 1 and then on Day 2 our boat-fishing trip was not nearly as good as the stories we had heard from people that went the day before (probably because their day was overcast and ours was sunny so the the fish could better-inspect the lures). We didn't mind because it was great just to be outside in the Alaskan wilderness. The staff was warm, personable and helpful and Mo was an excellent guide. The food was not gourmet but it was very-acceptable country-style cooking, and we must have been there about the same time as the commenter below because we encountered some sour milk too. However, we were not disappointed with the food and we were easy to please after a day of pulling in red salmon on a fly rod while in the company of bears. This is a small lodge with a bit of a rustic atmosphere (which we wanted) and they really do the most with what they're got. I picked them because their agenda seemed to be more family-oriented than some other lodges and our guide kindly helped us through our inexperience with fishing. Katmai Adventure Lodge was also were a lot less expensive than some of the other places and you have to consider that when comparing to other lodges. As I mentioned before, weather and wildlife conditions can be highly volatile and can limit your options from day to day. However, that's not the fault of the lodge and they do their best to give you a good experience with whatever Mother Nature serves up.

Room Tip: We stayed in the room downstairs next to the kitchen. It was a queen with two bunk beds and a privat...
  • Stayed: August 2012, travelled with family
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1  Thank Paul P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 August 2012

We had high hopes for this lodge. A family of three, we visited the lodge in August of 2012. The accommodations were above average compared to other "Alaskan wilderness lodges" we had been going to for the last four years. Unfortunately, I would rank this one at the bottom of the list. Except for the cook (Karen), the entire staff was new this year. Bear watching photography opportunities were disappointing. Fishing was OK. Initially Brad was the manager but left after two days and Phil took over. No internet since the wi-fi was down. With the wi-fi down, you had to go to town to get a fishing license. Ducting for a fireplace was there but with no fireplace it detracted from the overall lodge environment. Construction (not shown in the brochure) was ongoing on several buildings when we were there.
Out of the five days we were at Katmai, we spent three of them at Brooks Falls bear watching. With only one bear in the vicinity scarcely part time, it was pretty boring. The salmon run was over and we were told that the bears had moved to Margo Creek. We tried to fly to Margo Creek twice, but the winds prevented us from landing so we were dropped off at the Brooks Falls. I can’t fault the lodge for the weather but I am not sure why we had to go Brooks Falls the third day. We were pretty much left in the dark about where we were going each day. There appears to be no backup plan if the winds are bad or if the bears are not at Brooks Falls. The original itinerary had us doing different things each day. We were told that if the winds are not in the right direction, none of these things are possible except Brooks Falls.
After the third day at Brooks, I complained bitterly to the Phil and had to insist we not go back. We did go to “10000 Smokes” (which was a breath of fresh air and a great day). The next day we went fishing in the river. Mo was a good fishing guide.
I would rate the food as good but nothing fancy. We had a four star chef at one lodge we went to last year. The milk was morbidly sour one morning. On the bright side, we always had a desert with homemade ice cream after dinner.
The bugs were atrocious. The warm temperatures with the lack of wind made them so thick you would swallow them whole and choke. Bug nets were a must and bug repellant was absolutely essential.
Although all lodges advertise to have a full range of activities, they all specialize in one or two things. KLM specializes in fishing. Bear watchers are left to themselves. Every lodge has its strong points and I think the basic idea of flying to different places is a good one. Unfortunately, while we were there the SUV had to go into the shop leaving a crew cab pickup to cram seven people into every morning we went to the float plane dock. No room for packs and photographic equipment so it was bounced around in the back of the pickup.
We will not be returning to the Katmai Adventure Lodge.

  • Stayed: August 2012, travelled with family
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6  Thank Eric G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 August 2012 via mobile

Great location and above average Accomodations greet you at this adventure lodge. Small comfortable rooms accommodate up to 10-14 guests at a time

Food - dinners were traditional home cooked meals (pot roast, chicken), nothing special or unique but hearty nonetheless. Breakfasts were disappointing (1st day we had cold cereal and cantaloupe)..we learned on site that "All inclusive Meals" doesn't included soft drinks - drink options are water, kool-aid or coffee/tea.

Fresh baked cookies were plentiful and appreciated by all

Activities- Fishing (Salmon & Rainbow Trout) was great; Bear viewing at Brooks Falls (30 min float plane ride) was fantastic. Our guide for fishing 2x was fantastic.

The co- owners of the lodge have a good idea but lack the vision, execution of some basic touches to really make this a unique experience...filthy suvs greet you at the airport, lodge lacks a fireplace, opting for cold cereal breakfasts starts off the days on a different note than even just pancakes, eggs, bacon. No internet (wi-fi was down whole time)...biggest hurdle with hosts was once client is booked and paid - they went dark so we couldn't firm up our activities during our stay and they decided what we would be doing, rather than our selections.

Despite that - trip was fantastic and area made up for the challenges. We wouldn't stay there again - unless we knew they brought in mgmt to tighten up the ship. They have a good thing going - its just being neglected.

  • Stayed: July 2012
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4  Thank Duane0621
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 August 2012

Put this place on your bucket list! This was our honeymoon (lucky to have a fishing wife!), and we could not have picked a better destination to introduce a newbie to Alaskan experiences. The lodge is just enough rustic to make you feel remote, yet we were very comfortable and felt pampered by great cooking, service, and friendliness. Brad G. helped us create a week of utter enjoyment with our chosen options of bear viewing, fishing on the Naknek, and fishing on the Nushagak. We felt like we were ten years old again when we climbed on float planes, saw bears at Brooks, and caught Kings, silvers, trout, and Northern Pike! Request Capt. Moe as your fishing guide.....none better! Moe's wife Michelle on the staff made us feel like new friends, and Mark (also a guide) kept us laughing, full of fun, and a little crazy too! Book your trip, what an unbelievable experience we will NEVER forget!!! Bring extra cash for tips for guide and staff.

Room Tip: All rooms are neat, clean, and just enough Alaskan. Michelle always delivered outstanding service an...
  • Stayed: July 2012, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Perry M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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Additional Information about Katmai Adventure Lodge

Address: 1000 Rapids Camp Rd, King Salmon, AK 99613
Region: United States > Alaska > King Salmon
Amenities:
Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service
Hotel Style:
Ranked #16 of 16 Speciality Lodging in King Salmon
Number of rooms: 5
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
At Katmai Adventure Lodge you can experience the Alaskan vacation of a lifetime. Bear viewing, kayaking, hiking, flight seeing, fishing, beach combing, and rafting are all accessible day trips from the lodge. Our beautiful log lodge is right at river’s edge, with stunning views in every direction. Each of our well-appointed guest rooms has its own bathroom with hot water, showers, and flushing toilets - luxuries not always found in remote lodge. ... more   less 

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